Top UX Prototyping Tools

UX prototyping tools are probably one of your most frequently used sets of software you have, if you’re in business. Some of these tools, you use not for deliberate UX prototyping, but for similar things, and probably never noticed this. Tools such as PowerPoint, Visio and Flash are commonly used as prototyping tools for a number of things, as are other low charting and graphing tools most businesses make avail of.
But, if you’re looking for sharp UX prototyping tools that deliver more topical functionality than these old mainstays, you’re in luck, because there are a lot of tools out there to aid you in this task. Some of them are SaaS, some of them are traditional software and others are just little tools that do one simple but invaluable thing.

Today, though, we’ll talk more about the bigger UX prototyping suites that do a lot. If there’s time, we’ll mention a few little useful tools to accompany these.

Pencil
Pencil is an open source flow chart, prototyping and 2D modeling suite similar in function to Visio. However, where Visio has only 3rd party shape packs to approximate lengthy GUI prototyping, Pencil has an entire repertoire of these at its disposal. You can prototype a user journey through the flow charting components alongside the mockups of the UI that accompanies this journey, all from one program. As I said, it is open source, and I usually don’t like recommending open source stuff as it lacks polish, but Pencil’s an exception. While bland in the aesthetics and interface, it works fine enough.

LucidChart
If you’re looking to spend a little bit on a freemium venture, LucidChart brings the polish and extra dynamics of functionality that Pencil lacks, while also providing Pencil’s diversity. Like Pencil, this system does flow charts and GUI mockups, allowing all dimensions of UX to be prototyped from one spot. It’s prettier than Pencil, but I find it’s a little heavier for the pretty GUI. It’s up to you, which you want, bland but functional and low impact, or powerful and pretty but demanding of your system.

Serena Prototype Composer
Serena is the big one. This is a prototyping system that allows powerful point and click design of program flows, website and network flows, abstract math dynamics and UI interaction mockups all from a very logical flowchart design interface.
This one’s actually not freemium but downright retail, though. The community edition only edits premade projects, meaning no original ones can be started.

Special Mention
Some other tools, not really prototyping tools themselves, can work alongside prototyping tools to create a unified, more powerful relationship. As I said, these are very task oriented, but I thought I’d just mention a couple. You might want to organize your thoughts and that of your teams with a cooperative post it note system like Pronotes, to keep things organized yet visible.

If you’re prototyping for SaaS, you might want to take advantage of the Lorem Ipsum generator, a free SaaS interface that generates this staple placeholder Latin for prototypes. It saves you the trouble, and believe me, it’s a lot of trouble to be saved. So, we’ve seen three very respected UX prototyping tools, one for each demographic and price range. And, we’ve seen a couple programs that might work well alongside them to handle little nuisances that you’d otherwise contend with.

See our graphical user interface examples.